The BRICS configuration’s conversion of common sense into good sense: the relevance of a neo-Gramscian study for inclusive international relations

Kodabux, Adeelah ORCID logoORCID: (2020) The BRICS configuration’s conversion of common sense into good sense: the relevance of a neo-Gramscian study for inclusive international relations. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The study of the BRICS configuration is typically approached from problem-solving theories in International Relations (IR). Some scholars argue that the five economies aim to integrate the international system and co-exist with established powers (Burges, 2013, Narlikar, 2013, Vickers. 2013). Meanwhile, in critical IR theory, Worth (2009a) argues that semi-peripheries are little examined as transformers of the world order especially from the Coxian critical theory lens. This thesis argues that the five states’ convergence is not intended to transform or integrate the world order. Instead, their expressions for strengthening cooperation in the Global South’s name is a result of the ‘common sense’ (Gramsci, 1971), that is, widespread beliefs manufactured by the configuration’s ruling classes. However, this common sense is fragmented. It ought to convert into good sense, that is, a coherent set of ideas devoid of criticisms, to avoid resistances.
This thesis emphasises three intra-state levels within the BRICS configuration – Brics from above, the middle, and below – and stresses the relevance of reverting to Gramsci’s concepts for studying how the intergovernmental vision is shaped by these social forces’ dynamics. Owing to limitations with Cox’s analytical frameworks for critical IR theory, a Gramscian-inspired analysis is instead used to offer three hypotheses. First, the Brics-from-above manufacture a common sense of representing the Global South’s interests. Second, the Brics-from-below challenge this common sense. Third, in anticipation of pressures from below, the Brics-from-above create ‘middle’ platforms, allegedly in civil society’s interests. Documentary research, field observation, and interviews have enabled an exploration of the fabrication of common sense, why it is contested, and the discursive strategies deployed to appeal to the subalterns.
The findings suggest that the Brics-from-above constituting the configuration’s political society fabricate the BRICS common sense and use the Brics-from-the-middle to give the impression that it is forged in civil society. However, this fragmented common sense does not convert into good sense. The Brics-from-the-middle play an important role in absorbing the Brics-from-below’s resistances and in appropriating their grassroots principles by imitating dominant classes’ strategies to consolidate the order established from above.
This thesis’s theoretical implications suggest that a study of the configuration going beyond problem-solving theories’ orthodoxy is necessary. Studying their convergence’s ideational dimension exposes the governments’ imagery about working in the Global South’s interests as a fallacy. The update of two Gramscian concepts (counter passive revolution and counter trasformismo) is a conceptual innovation of Gramsci’s ideas to reinvigorate engagement with neo-Gramscian research in IR. Overall, this thesis contributes to an underdeveloped body of literature about semi-peripheries in critical IR theory. It overcomes limitations of Cox’s analytical frameworks and adds a new dimension to Gramscian research in IR.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
Item ID: 37752
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2023 15:40
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2023 21:38

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